The Menzingers have made a name for themselves as the modern-day storytellers of music. Since the release of their debut full-length ‘A Lesson In The Abuse Of Information Technology’ back in 2007, they’ve called upon their penchant for relatable lyrical narratives and punk-infused sounds to sail through six albums worth of melody-driven material.
Following the soaring success and critical praise of 2017’s ‘After The Party’, the quartet have put together a follow-up in ‘Hello Exile’, and it’s The Menzingers‘ most sonically diverse and lyrically daring effort to date.
Opener ‘America (You’re Freaking Me Out)’ rolls in with a sense of relentless urgency. Raucous instrumentals, including pounding drums coming from Joe Godino and raging guitar riffs courtesy of Tom May, make their bombastic presence clear amongst the verses, before breaking away into more memorably inclined choruses that centre its commentary around the current political climate of the country The Menzingers so candidly care about.
Lead single ‘Anna’ spearheads the sonic multiplicity that this LP entails. Borrowing flavours from country to classic rock, it also doesn’t shy away from being an anthemic piece of pop music. Nostalgically dreaming about the days of the honeymoon phase of a blossoming romance, complete with hazy drinking and drunken dancing, ‘Anna’ is a melodic track, melancholically tinged by the longing for a former flame.
Calling in the cohort’s country influences to create a sumptuously addictive sound, ‘High School Friend’ focuses on the notion of the unbreakable bond between humankind, particularly on the basis of life-long friendships.
Far from the friendly theme that the previous track boasts, ‘Strangers Forever’ faces the harsh but honest realities of people parting ways. Backed by striking instrumentals, the song sharp lyrics state a story that we all can relate to throughout our busy lives that deal with meeting and greeting acquaintances, making companions, and falling apart from those friends who wind up becoming mere distant strangers.
The title-track explores every element this album embodies. From its experimental production to emotionally heavy lyrics, as a standalone song it’s the central pillar to the record as an entity. With its wide-open musicality and Greg Barnet‘s raw vocals, the title-track compresses all the components detailed throughout the full-length.
Delving into deeper lyrical territories, ‘I Can’t Stop Drinking’ and ‘London Drugs’ detail dark themes of addiction head-on. The former deals with a vulnerable character, committed to consuming endless amounts of champagne, beer, and whiskey, whereas the latter discusses fixing up from the comedown of taking substances. Both tracks unflinchingly tackle tough topics in a manner The Menzingers most definitely portray with poignancy.
Closer ‘Farewell Youth’ concludes the album in a state of contemplation, waving goodbye to juvenile days spent hanging out in basements and unconsciously spinning records, during a childhood that has flashed by in a blink of an eye. It sends off the LP in a suitably mature style.
‘Hello Exile’ holds its spot as the band’s most mature record to date. From balancing a boundless sense of youthful energy to its wiser way with working in emotionally leaning lyrics, ‘Hello Exile’ ultimately sustains a sympathetic songwriting style, so synonymous to The Menzingers‘ musical identity.